Today, headlines in the media are dominated by politics, economic doom and gloom, the jobless rate, and citizens of other countries being murdered by their dictator leaders. However, the headline we should all be paying more attention to is the one that appeared in The Salt Lake Tribune last year: “More soldier suicides than combat deaths in 2012.” The soldiers of the U.S. military are defending and protecting all of the United States’ interests across our entire planet, only to come home and kill themselves.
With these new students landing in colleges and universities nationwide, academic leadership needs to understand suicide warning signs.
Since World War II and up until recently, U.S. military suicide rates have been lower than civilian rates, and wartime suicide rates in the military have historically dropped. Yet in 2008, the military suicide rate exceeded the civilian rate for people between 17 to 30 years of age, according to the study “Army Suicides: ‘Knowns’ and an Interpretative Framework for Future Directions.” With both wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, something dynamic transformed our U.S. military service members and increased the military suicide rates. signs are always there; it’s just a matter of making leadership accountable in regards to directing treatment. Bloxom is a former Staff Sergeant and Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran currently pursuing a higher education with hopeful ambitions of attending Rutgers University’s joint JD/MBA program. As an influx of U.S. military war veterans joins the ranks of higher education, we as educators have an obligation to support our heroes when they need us to do our part.
Many service members are leaving the military ranks and beginning their academic journeys due to the availability of education benefits they have earned while serving our nation. With these new students landing in colleges and universities nationwide,
academic leadership needs to understand suicide warning signs. Here are some common suicide warning signs taken from Suicide.org, an organization dedicated to preventing suicide:
Previous suicide attempt or behavior that has led to sefl-injury
Somatic symptoms, including sleep and pain complaints
Stressors such as marital or intimate relationship issues, legal, housing,
and occupational problems
Current or pending disciplinary or legal action
Problems with a major life transition (e.g., retirement, discharge, divorce, etc.)
Loss of a fellow warrior
Setbacks in military career or personal life
Severe, prolonged stress that seems unmanageable
Sense of powerlessness, helplessness or hopelessness
Behavior that isolates service members from friends, family members and
What is important to understand is that someone need not be an expert in suicide prevention to prevent a suicide.
The key is to have open eyes, communicate relentlessly and help the person rediscover that suicide can never be an option. Kevin Caruso from Suicide.org stated that 75 percent of those who die by suicide have some suicide warning signs. Our motivation must first be to save that 75 percent.
Suicide prevention should never be the responsibility of the experts; suicide is the responsibility of all. When we witness someone exhibiting suicide warning signs, we need to do everything we can to help them. Today, with the Internet and social media, a simple Google search provides endless ways to get help. Social networking websites for suicide prevention can connect people with common
experiences. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention Facebook pages provide links to suicide prevention websites and hotlines, as well as information about the warning signs of suicide. The power of communicating through social media can help us become more current with our reality. Today, social media is sharing ideas, valuable information and solutions at speeds that no organization could possibly hope to match. Colleges and universities can also
benefit from this limitless communication tool.
Every college and university has an internal suicide prevention reporting structure and resource. Research the
resources in your community and have this information available before you need it. Education from these sources is the best way help identify and prevent such a significant public health problem among U.S. military service members who are now enrolled at or entering colleges and universities nationwide.
Many universities’ suicide prevention programs engage in deploying various
technological mechanisms, including online training courses, social networking
and the sheer power of social media. Using the power of technology, we are
releasing the integral aspects of a comprehensive suicide prevention program.
This article is by no means a conclusion but only one chapter in
encouraging suicide prevention. As best said by Bloxom, “The problem to avoid is becoming an example at the next suicide awareness briefing.
Our goal as educators is to use the unlimited power of knowledge to reduce or eliminate suicide examples. We have become a key component to the solution regardless if we are ready or not, and we are now a part of the first line of defense for preventing soldier suicides.
Short list of suicide prevention resources:
Veterans Crisis Line: 1.800.273.8255, Press 1
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1.800.273.TALK (8255)
Britton, P., Ilgen, M.,
Valenstein, M., Knox, K., Claassen, C., & Conner, K. R. (2012). Differences
Between Veteran Suicides With and Without Psychiatric Symptoms. American Journal
Of Public Health, 102(S1), S125-S130.
Caruso, K., 2013. Suicide
Suicide.org is a 501c3
NON-PROFIT Organization and Website.
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Douzenis, A. A., Papadopoulos, F. C., Papadopoulou, A. A., Bouras, G. G.,
Gournellis, R. R., & Lykouras, L. L. (2012). Suicide and seasonality. Acta
Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 125(2), 127-146. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0447.2011.01750.x
Clinical digest. Steep rise
in soldier suicides coincides with military action in Iraq and Afghanistan.
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& Fairall, J. M. (2012). Social Media and Suicide: A Public Health Perspective.
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Introduction of interventions led to decrease in suicides. (2012). Mental Health
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Lowering Suicide Risk in Returning Troops.
by AMERICAN WRITER Dr. Pietro Savo Tradition Books Publication © 2011
Manufacturing Research Practitioner ™ by Dr. Pietro
Pietro Savo E-Mail Link Dr.Pete@EducationIsPower.US
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